In a paper published in the Nature Nanotechnology journal, researchers claim that they have harnessed the latest nanotechnology to make major steps towards producing the world’s first all Lithium battery, a development that could massively improve battery efficiencies, doubling or even tripling the battery life of our devices.
The research to develop these Lithium batteries stems from the dream of one day finding a way to use Lithium as the sole component of the anode, thus producing a true Lithium battery. Today’s batteries are in fact made of three primary components that have been at the core of battery science since the nineteenth century; an electrolyte, an anode and a cathode. Today’s so called Lithium batteries actually use Lithium for only the electrolyte part, but not the anode.
According to Yi Cui, a professor of Material Science and Engineering at Standford University:
“…of all the materials that one might use in an anode, lithium has the greatest potential. Some call it the Holy Grail. It is very lightweight and it has the highest energy density. You get more power per volume and weight, leading to lighter, smaller batteries with more power.”
The research team at Standford have been able to use nano technology to produce a protective layer that helps deal with the inherent problems associated with Lithium anode-based battery designs. These issues include overheating due to the nature of Lithium itself which can be a heavily reactive and volatile substance when used as an anode.
Today’s nano technology is capable of producing materials and substances that far exceed the current options. Made of amorphous carbon, these based nanospheres are honeycomb-like in design and are very strong, resistant to chemical reaction yet flexible. All the ideal properties needed to contain the Lithium when used as both electrolyte and and anode.
The technology is of course still at the research stage of development, but the news is a really exciting for the future and represents another example of nano technology’s ability to solve major scientific and technological issues.